Thursday, January 22, 2009

Smokers Are Jokers . . . They're Not Fooling Anyone But Themselves

Third-hand smoke

Celia Milne

Does the person beside you smell like smoke? The nasty odour that clings to smokers’ clothes when they get in the subway now has a name: Third-hand smoke.

And this invisible stuff is bad for our health.

Third-hand smoke is essentially the residue left on surfaces after the cigarette is extinguished. It lurks on sofas, clothes, carpeting, food, hair and even skin. It can make people wheeze or make their throats scratchy. And it has a stronger effect on children than adults.

“Understanding that third-hand smoke harms infants and children may help insure completely smoke-free homes and cars,” Dr. Jonathan Winickoff from the Center for Child and Adolescent Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston told Metro. “They’re getting a higher dose when in contact with surfaces that are coated with these toxic layers.”

Dr. Winickoff and colleagues recently conducted a study that showed 65 per cent of non-smokers but only 43 per cent of smokers believe third-hand smoke harms children. Results of the study were published online in the journal Pediatrics on Dec. 29, 2008. Media outlets around the world picked up the new expression used in the study: “third-hand smoke.”

The risks of first-hand and second-hand smoke are well-established. Smoking accounts for about 85 per cent of new cases of lung cancer. There are 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, and 50 of them are carcinogenic.

While the health dangers of third-hand smoke haven’t been studied in detail, second-hand smoke exposure increases your chances of developing lung cancer by 25 per cent and heart disease by 10 per cent.


First hand, second hand, third hand . . . when will smokers realize that they're not doing anyone a favour, especially themselves?

I hate smoking with a passion. Not only is it severely damaging to your health but it affects the health of those around you. Although second-hand and third-hand smoking may not be as harmful to one's health as being the one to smoke, studies continue to show that being around a smoker is just as bad, if not worse, than smoking itself. And parents who do this around children are not giving them the proper chance to develop. (I'm glad that Ontario has passed a new law banning people from smoking in a car with children under 16. Even if a parent has their windows open, smoking still makes the air inside the car 13 times dirtier than the air outside.) As if it weren't bad enough being in a house that's filled with the smell of cigarettes stuck onto everything, including your skin and clothes, it is continuing to damage our health.

There is absolutely nothing good about smoking and the benefits from quitting far outweigh the temporary soothing effect of the nicotine. I can go on and on as my hate for smoking is quite strong. I'm sure we all know the effects of smoking and there are many ways to quit the habit.

If any smokers happen to be reading this, I urge you to read The Easy Way To Stop Smoking by Alan Carr.

Smart Men Have More Sperm

Intelligence linked to sperm count

Josey Vogels

You may think it’s the potential for brilliant conversation that makes intelligence such an attractive trait in a man but it may be that his intellect is a sign of something else: According to researchers, smart guys have higher sperm counts.

The researchers at King’s College London, the University of Delaware and the University of New Mexico compared results from intelligence tests given to 425 guys aged 31 to 44. The men also provided sperm samples and upon analysis, the researchers found the men who scored higher on the intelligence test not only had more sperm per millilitre, but their sperm were also better swimmers.

Previous theories believed that highly intelligent men might score less stressful jobs and make better lifestyle choices, resulting in better health and healthier sperm. But, according to the researchers in this study, even the smart guys with poor health had higher sperm counts, causing them to speculate that indicators of intelligence and good sperm may ride in on the same gene float.

But before all you less-than-brilliant lads get down on your little swimmers, take heart in the fact that semen has some other neat tricks up its sleeve besides delivering super sperm. For example, there is evidence that semen can make a girl happy, and not in ways you might think.

Researchers have found that women who regularly had unprotected sex with their partner were less depressed than women who regularly used a condom. Having ruled out other explanations, they think this is because mood-altering hormones in semen are absorbed through the vagina.

Of course, before you go having unprotected sex as a mood enhancer, it goes without saying that an unwanted pregnancy or an STD would no doubt put a damper on your natural high.

And while the health and vitality of a man’s sperm may be a going concern (especially if he’s trying to have kids), seminal fluid is much more than a spermatozoa carrier. In fact, sperm makes up only about one per cent of its contents. The rest is a complex mix of over 300 components, among them proteins, enzymes, zinc, and fructose and changes in colour, smell, taste or texture may be indicators of health problems, such as prostate infection or other plumbing problems.

So, even if your little tadpoles aren’t the best swimmers, it’s still important to monitor the quality of the pool water.


I always wondered what it was that made me attracted to intelligent guys . . .

I don't know how much I believe this study. There are a lot of factors that affect a man's sperm that it's hard to believe that this could be one of them. Nonetheless, yet another reason to give those cute nerds a chance. ;)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

You Are What You Eat . . . Starting From Day One!

Childhood diet alters hormones


Research shows that childhood diets can alter for life the production of hormones that help us to ascertain when we are full.

Children scarfing down lip-smacking goodies instead of their fruits and vegetables may be setting themselves up for a lifetime of battling the bulge or even Type 2 diabetes, new research suggests.

Researchers at the University of Calgary used rats in experiments to show that diet in childhood and adolescence can permanently alter how genes react and cause changes in hormones that make you feel full.

This suggests that what you eat as a child can have a huge impact on health later in life, said author Raylene Reimer.

The researchers fed baby rats three different diets from a very young age: one with high protein, one with high fibre and one balanced.

When the rats reached adulthood they were fed a high-fat, high-sugar diet mirroring typical North American eating habits — including sugar, lard and soybean oil.

All the rats were allowed to indulge in as much junk food as they wanted. It turned out that those reared on the high-protein diet wanted a lot more — and gained much more weight and body fat — than those rats that were fed the high-fibre diet as youngsters. Those rats eating the normal, balanced diet — which Reimer said would be like following Canada’s Food Guide — stayed almost as slim as the fibre group.

“What we saw was very striking in terms of their body weights,” said Reimer. “We saw that the high-fibre diet was actually protective against obesity, whereas the high-protein diet was very much promoting obesity later on in life.”

Reimer says it comes down to how the genes we are born with are expressed. We can’t change our genetic makeup, but we can influence how our genes will react. For example, someone who is fed well in childhood will probably grow taller than someone who’s malnourished — even if both start out with the same genetic base.

In the study, the high-fibre diet caused an increase in the activity of a gene that controls the release of hormones that make you feel full.

“The diets actually affect your gene expression that then causes your body to react different. It changes the biology of your body.”

The results could explain why some people find it impossible to shed extra pounds despite dieting and exercise, while others never seem to gain an ounce, said Reimer.

A 2007 Statistics Canada survey found 16 per cent of adult Canadians were obese based on their reported weights and heights, and 32 per cent were overweight.

“This might be an explanation, first, of the rapid rise in obesity rates that’s occurred, and also why some individuals find it very much more difficult to control body weight and prevent weight gain.”

Reimer said the message from her study is that everyone, including children and pregnant women, needs to eat a balanced diet full of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Most people only get about half the fibre they need in a day, something research has shown again and again can lead to problems, she said.

“That can have implications for body weight (and) for Type 2 diabetes. Cancer, as well, has been linked to dietary fibre intake.”


This article finally puts the question to rest as to why some people have an easier/harder time losing/gaining weight. For those of you thinking that you don't need to worry about your diet until you're older, think again. As for those with young children, do them and yourself a favour and start a healthy diet for them now!

You want to know how to incorporate fibre into your diet? It's a lot easier than you think! Below is a list, put together by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, of ways to add fibre to your diet:

  1. Choose a fibre rich cereal. Choose a cereal that has at least 4 grams of fibre per serving.
  2. Add a high-fibre cereal to your regular cereal. Choose a cereal that has at least 10 grams of fibre per serving and sprinkle it on your regular cereal.
  3. Eat more fruit. Limit juice and try to eat the whole fruit. Have fruit for a snack or dessert. Don’t forget to eat the skin on fruits like apples and pears. That is where most of the fibre is.
  4. Add one more vegetable to your diet today. Vegetables are low in calories and high in fibre and nutrition.
  5. Add beans and lentils. Add beans or lentils to your tossed salad, spaghetti sauce, or soups.
  6. Choose whole grain and whole wheat breads and pasta. Look for terms like “100% whole grain”, or 100% whole wheat”.
  7. Add ¼ cup of wheat bran, oat bran or ground flax to your baking.
  8. Use hummus or other bean dips for spreads on sandwiches instead of mustard and mayonnaise.
  9. Add dried fruit, nuts or seeds to cereal, salads or yogurt.
  10. Substitute half the white flour for whole wheat flour in your favorite recipes.

Remember to add fibre slowly to your diet. Switching from a low fibre to high fibre diet in one day can cause constipation and cramps.

Make sure to drink water when you are increasing your fibre intake. Aim for 6-8 cups per day.

The wonderful thing about fibre is that it keeps you full longer so you're not digging your hands into the cookie jar ten minutes later. Happy dieting!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Hello readers!

I decided to start a health blog as personal health seems to be somewhat of an obsession of mine. If I'm not talking about it, I'm reading about it. I know I'll never get tired of it and the best part is that it's always changing! New studies are being done each day leading to more information about how our brains and bodies work. As well, I plan to further my writing career in health and this will be a great start.

This blog will consist of health articles (research, studies, new discoveries) that I read which I find interesting and informative. I will also include my own thoughts/ideas/input about each. Topics will cover all areas of health: fitness, psychology, meditation, the health of our planet (environment), dieting, beauty, sexual health, etc.

I should let it be known that as a self-proclaimed health nut, I do practice what I preach. I stay physically active by playing sports and going to the gym and mentally active by playing Sudoku and other mind challenging games. On top of it all, I stick to a healthy diet that consists of whole grains, lots of fruits and vegetables and water.

The greatest wealth is health.